Wimbledon men’s draw day two preview

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Wimbledon men’s draw day two preview

As the final half of the men’s draw play their opening matches on day two at Wimbledon, we preview some of the matches to watch out for.

Rafael Nadal v Kei Nishikori

Returning from injury and with a ranking of world No. 189, Nishikori has been awarded a wildcard into Wimbledon and has drawn one of the two toughest assignments on offer in SW19: a first-round match against Rafael Nadal.

Nadal, who missed the chance to defend his title at the All England Club last year as a result of knee tendinitis, returns to Wimbledon on the back of an all-conquering clay-court season that brought him his fifth French Open title.

Though few would have expected the world No. 1 to lose his quarterfinal to Spanish counterpart Feliciano Lopez at the Aegon Championships at the Queen’s Club, one can only imagine Nadal will be all the better for the experience.

A product of the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, Nishikori won his first ATP title in 2008 and has been ranked as high as world No. 56. The 20-year-old may well be on his way to becoming Japan’s most successful male tennis player, but with Nadal on the other side of the net in his opening round at Wimbledon, a first-round exit looms.

Mikhail Youzhny v Dudi Sela

Sela took the honours against Youzhny on the only previous occasion the players have met, in the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup last year. Sela’s contribution then was critical to Israel’s unexpected run to the semi-finals of the competition, but that’s not the only reason to like the world No. 65’s chances against the 13th seed in this match.

Sela was a quarter-finalist at the Queen’s Club just a couple of weeks ago, and reached that stage of the competition after handing triple Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick a straight sets defeat in the third round. Youzhny, by contrast, has lost his only match on grass this season – against 181st-ranked Nicolas Kiefer at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.

While the Russian has five times previously reached the fourth round at Wimbledon, he suffered a first-round exit last year against a then 70th ranked Juan Carlos Ferrero. It wouldn’t be the biggest surprise of the first round if Sela could make it two opening round losses in a row for Youzhny when the last point is played in this match.

Andy Murray v Jan Hajek

This is where it starts for Murray, as once again he seeks that maiden Grand Slam title. And despite a third round loss to then 90th-ranked Mardy Fish at Queen’s, it’s tough to envisage the current world No. 90 inflicting the same result in the first round in SW19.

Hajek has only played in the main draw at Wimbledon once before, and lost in the opening round, and Murray should be able to repeat the dose here.

Juan Carlos Ferrero v Xavier Malisse

Malisse’s form in the grass court warm-up tournaments, defeating Novak Djokovic on his way to the quarter-finals at Queen’s and then reached the semis at the Unicef Open in in 's-Hertogenbosch makes this a potentially interesting first round match-up.

Ferrero has won the one previous match they’ve played against one another, at Queen’s in 2009, but has lost the only match he’s played on grass so far this season (at Halle). The 2003 French Open champion was a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon last year, however, so while he may be known as more of a clay court specialist, a second round showing at the grass-court major is not beyond him.

Malisse though was a semi-finalist at the All England Club in 2002, the same year the Belgian reached a career-high ranking of world No 19.

A five-setter might just be brewing in this one.



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